Population group of person

Status: This was the departmental standard from January 11, 2016 to August 24, 2021.


Population group refers to the population group or groups to which the person belongs, for example, White, South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean or Japanese. These population groups are the groups used on questionnaires which collect data on the visible minority population for Employment Equity purposes. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour".

Person refers to an individual and is the unit of analysis for most social statistics programs.


Population group is derived from responses to the Population group and Aboriginal group questions.

Persons who indicated that they are Aboriginal on the Aboriginal group question are classified as "Aboriginal peoples". All others are classified according to their single or multiple responses to the Population group question.

The Population group classification includes single response categories counting responses associated with only one population group, specifically, 'White', 'South Asian', 'Chinese', 'Black', 'Filipino', 'Latin American', 'Arab', 'Southeast Asian', 'West Asian', 'Korean', 'Japanese' and 'Visible minority, n.i.e.'

As well, the Population group classification includes multiple response categories counting responses for two or more population groups, specifically, responses of 'White' in combination with 'South Asian', 'Chinese', 'Black', 'Filipino', 'Latin American', 'Arab', 'Southeast Asian', 'West Asian', 'Korean', or 'Japanese' (for example, 'White and Chinese'), plus categories for 'White and Multiple visible minorities' and 'Multiple visible minorities, n.i.e.'

The category 'Visible minority, n.i.e.' includes write-in responses not included elsewhere, such as 'Guyanese', 'West Indian', 'Tibetan', 'Polynesian', and 'Pacific Islander'. It also includes such write-in responses found in combination with a 'White' mark-in response.

The category 'White and multiple visible minorities' includes responses for 'White' found in combination with more than one visible minority group (e.g., by checking 'White' and two or more mark-in circles, such as 'Black' and 'South Asian').

The category 'Multiple visible minorities, n.i.e.' includes responses for more than one visible minority group (e.g., by checking two or more mark-in circles, such as 'Black' and 'South Asian.'), but not found in combination with 'White'.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

There are no comparable internationally recognized standards since this variable is based on a concept that is defined in Canadian legislation, specifically, the Employment Equity Act.


Additional information


Relation to previous version

  • Population group of person August 25, 2021 to current

    The derivation of the categories in the variable has been revised slightly, placing more emphasis on the write-in responses of respondents. This is not expected to noticeably impact the historical comparability of the variable.

    The Classification of population group has been expanded to include categories for all possible combinations of two population groups (e.g., South Asian and Chinese). Previously, the population group variable largely only included multiple response combinations which included the category 'White' (e.g., White and South Asian).

  • Population group of person January 11, 2016 to August 24, 2021

    This standard has been updated by moving the category derivations from the classification to the main derivation note.

  • Population group of person June 15, 2009 to January 10, 2016

    The previous standard for "race (ethnicity)" is superseded by this standard.

  • Previous standard - Race (ethnicity) July 15, 1998 to June 14, 2009

    This standard is no longer recommended for use and is not to be used.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: